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Dutch 'too PC' about cost of immigration
Published on:Tuesday, April 6, 2010 - 15:23
Dutch scientists turn a blind eye to the costs of immigration. That is the conclusion reached by Dutch researcher Jan van de Beek in his Ph.D thesis. Not everyone is pleased with his findings.
"Are you a right-wing extremist?" Jan van de Beek was asked after one of his presentations. His research, which was conducted at the University of Amsterdam, apparently touched a raw nerve. A number of times he even found people calling him a Nazi or a fascist.
While preparing a Masters' thesis on Dutch policies regarding asylum seekers in 1999, Jan van de Beek discovered that hardly any economic data on migration were available in the Netherlands. That was strange, as there has been migration to the Netherlands on a wide scale since the 1960s. He decided to dedicate his Ph.D research to finding out why this was the case.
What were his findings? Since the 1970s, hardly any research has been conducted in the Netherlands on the costs and benefits of migration. Nor did the government collect statistical data, for instance on the rate of unemployment among migrants and the number of immigrants on welfare. From the beginning of the 1980s, this absence of research and data was caused by what later came to be known as 'political correctness'.
"This period saw the rise of the extreme right-wing Centrum Party led by Hans Janmaat. It painfully reminded many Dutch of the trauma left by the Second World War. Our elites chose to ignore everything which could play into the hands of the extreme right. Hans Janmaat often used economic arguments in his tirades against immigrants. As a result, research into the economic aspects of migration became taboo."
Mr Van de Beek avoids the term 'politically correct' in his thesis; he prefers the academic term 'moral reading'.
"What happened is that scientific knowledge was no longer judged on the basis of the truth it contained but on the basis of its anticipated social and political effects. This is disconcerting if you consider that science claims to seek the truth and nothing but the truth."
During the defence of his thesis, Mr Van de Beek was praised for his independence as a researcher. In the predominantly left-wing environment of the Faculty of Social Sciences, he persistently stuck to his own plans.
But also there was a sharp response to his attack on established research. "You criticise the political correctness of your colleagues", said Jan Willem Duivendak, Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, "but is your own research not based on a political agenda as well?"
Mr Van de Beek does indeed make no secret of his view that the coming of uneducated migrants has not benefited the Netherlands very much.
"In a knowledge economy such as ours there is little need for unskilled migrants. If more research had been conducted, we would have probably concluded a long time ago that we should select immigrants on the basis of their level of education. Migrants in the Netherlands are doing very poorly on the job market in comparison with other Western countries."
However, Mr Van de Beek certainly does not want to be placed in the same camp as the populist politician Geert Wilders.
"Wilders' call to deport millions of Muslims threatens the Dutch constitutional order. However, I think there is a connection between the insistence on denying certain facts by the Dutch elites and the success of the Freedom Party today. Research into the economic effects of migration could serve to reduce political tension in the Netherlands."
In 2009, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders demanded that the government conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of migration to the Netherlands. The cabinet refused. Immigration minister Eberhard van der Laan responded by writing: "Immigrants are members of our society. Their presence cannot be reduced to simple figures of addition and subtraction, with the euro as the standard."
Whereupon Wilders concluded that: "Apparently the Dutch citizen is not allowed to know what mass migration costs." His own estimate is that the arrival of non-Western immigrants has made the Netherlands some 100 billion euros poorer.